Luna Sur Latin Bistro Takes Diners through Latin America, With Great Drinks and Expert Cuisine

Luna Sur 1

Luna Sur is located at 802 Ninth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets, (212) 262-1299,, and is open for lunch Mon-Fri from noon to 4PM. Dinner is served Sun-Mon from 4PM-11PM, Tues-Sat 4 PM-midnight and brunch, Saturday and Sunday from 11AM-4PM. Stay tuned for pre-fixe menu for pre-theater dining coming soon.  

There’s an indisputable connection between sun and fun that is clearly reflected in the food and culture of Latin America. Mario Zarate (owner of the very popular Cuban restaurants Guantanamera in the Theatre District and Amor Cubano in Harlem) has teamed up with Chef Isaias Ortiz (also of Guantanamera) at Luna Sur (Southern Moon) in Hell’s Kitchen to take guests on a tour of Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba and other Latin nations.  Inspired by people who are open to a range of experiences and flavors, Zarate has created a getaway, a Latin bistro where diners can indulge in a mix of Latin cultures, with Bold Flavors, Bright Colors and Brilliant Cocktails

luna Sangrita

You can feel the warmth from the moment you enter:  From the friendly servers who greet you dressed in brightly colored shirts, suspenders and matching converse sneakers, to a palette of bright orange, tangerine and lime on the painted wood paneled walls to the colorful placemats, and from the skylight that brightens the back dining room, as well as a floor-to-ceiling glass garage door that opens up in warm weather for service on the back patio, in addition to sidewalk seating.

The ideal meal begins with cocktails and tapas.  The restaurant has designed a cocktail menu that includes twists on classic Latin bebidas, using infused spirits and fresh fruit purees. You’ll find traditional Pisco Sours, as well as the Peruvian favorite made with pineapple, orange, or cinnamon-apple infused Pisco. The Watermelon Fresca is muddled fresh watermelon, fresh lime juice, and basil in a gin cocktail.  The famous Cuban rum cocktail, the Mojito, is served in classic mode, as well as in versions prepared with rum-infused with fresh fruit: guava, pineapple, raspberry, mango, coconut and passion fruit. In addition to a choice of fresh or frozen margaritas, and the option of fruit puree flavors, there is also the Pepino Picante Margarita, a spicy, refreshing margarita made with jalapeno-infused tequila, cucumbers, fresh lime and agave nectar. And for a real blend of cultures, try the Sangrita, a frozen margarita shot through with red Sangria. There is also a choice of beers by the bottle and on tap, white or red Sangria by the glass or pitcher, and a changing selection of wines from Argentina, Spain, Chile, the US and France, by the glass or bottle.

luna Ceviche

With drink in hand, diners are ready for a selection of small plates for sharing such as Pulpo Al Oliva, tender slices of octopus paired with a creamy, thick Kalamata olive sauce and Chorizo al Vino, slices of savory Spanish sausage marinated in Spanish red wine. Also not to be missed is the Cauza Limena, a traditional dish from Lima, Peru, wonderfully subtle, composed of smooth, delicate mashed potato layered with avocado and crab, or the addictive Luna Llena, avocado blended with Manzana, apple-strawberry-cinnamon sauce, served in the avocado shell and topped with grilled shrimp.

Larger plates include Pechuga Rellena con Salsa de Pina y Guayaba, crispy breaded chicken stuffed with ham and cheese, paired with a luscious guava sauce and served with flavorful, well-seasoned black beans and white rice.  Salmon Salcero is a wonderful well-balanced mixture of sweet and savory, grilled salmon with roasted sweet plantains and tender spinach, and Tropical Mahi Mahi, garlic marinated with mango, pineapple and papaya pico de gallo, and yellow rice.  But perhaps the stars of the show are the classic entrees—Lechoncito, completely tender suckling pig roasted for eight hours, served with garlicky mojo sauce and cassava; Arroz Con Mariscos, saffron-flavored rice abundant with shellfish (mussels, clams, shrimp, octopus, squid, scallops), the famous pressed Cuban Sandwich with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles, and the National Dish of Argentina, El Gaucho Churrasco, fire-grilled skirt steak served with Luna Sur’s signature chimi-churri sauce.

For dessert, there are classic Latin sweets—creamy Flan with homemade caramel sauce, Tres Leches Cake (light sponge cake soaked in three milks), Cuban Rum Guava Bread Pudding, made from Cuban bread, with rum-infused guava, and the Torta de Chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate in a cake, flavored with cinnamon, chili and cayenne.

luna Cauza Limena

To add to the fun, there’s live music, three sets per evening, 6 nights a week (Monday-Saturday), beginning at 8:00 PM, featuring Salsa, Merengue and Latin Jazz with a changing roster of artists, including Xiomara Laugart, a Cuban singer who recently debuted off-Broadway, portraying the Latin music legend in “Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz” as well as a live DJ for weekend brunch.  Wednesdays from 4 PM until closing, margaritas, sangria and mojitos, all flavors, frozen or regular are all just $6.   A bar menu to complement the cocktails will be introduced soon.

The Hell’s Kitchen location makes it a great spot pre- or post-theater. Downstairs there’s room for special events, cocktail parties, cooking classes, wine dinners, private dinners, or business meetings.

Great place with really friendly service. Absolutely one of the best bangs for the buck near the theater district.

Luna Sur 2

Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.


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raymi_use interiorjpg

The Eye-catching Main Dining Room

Address: 43 West 24th Street
Telephone: 212.929.1200
Date Est: June 2012
Chef/Owner: Richard Sandoval
Corporate Chef: Greg Howe
Chef de Cuisine: Erik Ramirez
General Manager: OPEN
Beverage Director: Piero Rodriguez

Beverage Program:          Infused Piscos and Pisco cocktails, signature cocktails

Wine and Beer
Cuisine: Peruvian Kitchen  
Price Range: Main Courses-$24-32

Hours: Dinner / 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm (Mon – Thurs, Sun)

Dinner / 5:00pm to 11pm (Friday & Sat)

Seating: 44 lounge seating, 15 bar seating, 40 main dinning room, 60 PDR

Reservations:   recommended

Credit Cards:   all major
Dress Code:   upscale casual


raymi BEBIDAS 19

The Fabulous Cocktails


A modern Peruvian restaurant as dynamic as the country it celebrates. Raymi captures the multicultural spirit of Peru, blending the Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and native influences that embody the country’s vibrant cuisine. The flavors are once familiar, adventurous, unexpected.

A stylish take on traditional Peruvian cocktails and cuisine, Raymi‘s menu was crafted by Chef Richard Sandoval and Chef Jaime Pesaque, longtime innovators and champions of elevated Latin American dining.

The Raymi experience revolves around a central Ceviche Bar, offering fresh seafood spiked with indigenous spices and ingredients. Add to that a Pisco Bar, pouring select labels alongside 30 house-infused varieties of the fiery liqueur including Lemongrass, Purple Corn, Jasmine Tea, Tangerine, and Apricot. Beverage Director Piero Rodriguez has also arranged for the full range of 10 Piscos available in the US to be served at Raymi. Fresh juices, homemade syrups, compotes, foams, and the infused Piscos will offer dimension to the bar’s handcrafted cocktails. A selection of small and large plates showcases the Peruvian palate while encouraging guests to share and linger in the sensual Latin setting

While there is a choice of dining areas (three rooms, one for big parties on busy nights), we loved the front room with its oversized windows, dramatic high-beamed ceilings, shiny wood tables and brightly upholstered chairs.

Even dedicated martini drinkers will be thrilled to forgo their traditional libations in favor of the most exciting Pisco based cocktails in New York City. We adored beautifully balanced PISCO SOURS (Pisco / lime / egg white / bitters) whether TRADICIONAL, QUINCE infused or the intoxicating CHICHA MORADA. There is a well chosen selection beer and wine (including selections from Peru), but we sampled several of the house-made infusions instead and were delighted. (The desserts should be accompanied by excellent coffee, spiked with . .  what. else . . . Pisco of course).

With the cocktails , go for an assortment of four: CORVINA CLASSICO sweet potato / habanero / cilantro; TUNA NIKKEI: white soy-yuzu / avocado / daikon / cucumber /
nor; SALMON CHIFA:: ginger / peanuts / sesame seeds / won ton and MIXTO:
aji rocoto / shrimp / octopus squid / sweet potato / toasted corn. The seasoning is exquisitely subtle and the style is modern and light; not the dense opaque versions offered at many NY Latin-influenced restaurants.

Other recommended appetizers or share plates include the tender and delicious

ANTICUCHOS: SKEWERS SEARED A LA PLANCHA or HANGER STEAK aji panca glaze / creamy ocopa sauce / rocoto salsa. We also loved a composed salad:SOLTERITO lima beans / tomatillo / avocado queso fresco / potato / green olives / white balsamic vinaigrette and a hunting PERUVIAN CORN CAKE mushroom ragout / watercress.



Colorful Tiles Enhance the Visual Appeal of Raymi

Raymi, New York, NY

Out Of The Ordinary Preparations Capture The Eye and Palate

If you can sample but one entrée (as we did) go for the fantastic WHOLE ROASTED CHICKEN FOR TWO: ceasar salad / aji de gallina / chicken liver mousse / devils egg. The appealing preparation offers chicken cooked 5 different ways: First the chicken is smoked.  The spices that  go into the basic preparation include: black bean sauce / cumin / garlic / a touch of soy. Then a lovely Ceasar salad is adorned with the crisped chicken skin, a truly devilish deviled eggs is perched next to the most divine Chicken Liver preparation ( including shallots / brandy / caramelized onions / bacon / chicken fat. The Smoked legs and breast are moist succulent and a final touch offers a lovely stew, sided by a zesty green sauce.

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Some Of The Tempting Offerings at Raymi


We sampled three desserts and and highly endorse: PERUVIAN CRISPY DONUTS:
chancaca honey; ARBORIO “RICE PUDDING”: golden raisins / brown butter ice cream
LUCUMA “ICE CREAM SUNDAE”:chocolate terrine / banana / almonds / creme fraiche. If you can sample just one, go for the sundae.


Raymi, New York, NY

A Sweet Conclusion

In addition to high quality, stylish dining and gentle prices service at Raymi is extraordinary: guiding, laid-back and seamless. Chef Richard Sandova, always the master, has brought New Yorker’s a true Peruvian masterpiece.


Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.



Casabe Bistro Latino

casabe int1

Casabe Bistro Latino

ADDRESS: 208 E 58 St.

PHONE: (212) 750-7766

LOCATION HISTORY: Previously Nino’s 208

OPENED FOR DINNER: October 19, 2010

Manager: Richard Huguenot

Sous Chef  Lenis Gonzalez

OWNER: Nino Selimaj nino

BACKGROUND: Known primarily by his first name, which lends itself to Nino’s family of popular Italian restaurants, Selimaj makes his first venture into Latin American cuisine with Casabe Bistro Latino, marking a new partnership with notable Latin chef Ricardo Cardona. His career started upon his arrival to New York City as a young boy, whereupon he took a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant on East 58th, the same street he returns to with this new concept. After working his way up the ladder and opening the first Nino’s on First Avenue, he has developed expertise as a seasoned restaurateur, his portfolio now boasts such successes as Nino’s Positano, Osso Buco, 208 and Nino’s Tuscany.

CONCEPT: A Latin Bistro, Casabe (pronounced ca-sah-beh) is named for a traditional yucca-based bread commonly eaten in Colombia, the Caribbean,South America. and the Dominican Republic. The restaurant will use the bread as a base for many of its signature dishes, and the menu as a whole will emphasize refined Latin American comforts. Rather than focusing on any one geographic lens, the menu will blend the flavors and traditions of all Latin American countries with modern and unique presentations. Ambiance will be lively, with salsa music, a Mojito lounge on the second floor, and live entertainment one night a week.

This Spanish, Caribbean and South American Menu features Nouveau Latin cuisine with dishes like Churrascos, Ceviches, Arepas, Paella and Tacos. The Mojito Bar Lounge offers live latin music and a selection of specialty drinks

CONSULTING CHEF: Ricardo Cardona

BACKGROUND: Chef Ricardo Cardona is a self-trained chef with over twenty five years experience in creating cutting edge Nuevo Latino cuisine. He is most well known for his use of unique ingredients that dig deep into the heart of the Latin culture while making surprising, unexpected choices that are delivered with gourmet flair. Chef Cardona has helmed such popular restaurants as New York’s Hudson Terrace, Mama Juana NY, Sofrito, 809, Tabaco y Ron and Sazon, as well as his own recent project, Gabbana.  His cuisine regularly serves such luminaries as singer Marc Anthony and wife, Jennifer Lopez; the members of the New York Yankees baseball team and New York Knicks basketball team; actor Andy Garcia; boxer Oscar de la Hoya; designer Oscar de la Renta; singer Julio Iglesias; and guests at the Premo Nuestro Awards, among many others.

PRICE POINT: Under $25

SIGNATURE DISHES: Cazuelita de Bacalao Guizado with Sweet Plantain Fufu, Salmon con Casabe (Casabe crusted salmon), Free Form Chipotle Ravioli with Rioja Braised Short Ribs, Arroz con Pollo.

WINES AND COCKTAILS: The wine list will focus on American, South American, and Spanish bottles at an affordable price point; cocktails will be designed by Mamjuana mixologist Roger Gonzeles, whose focus will be on balancing the sweetness of tropical Latin fruits with traditional South American spirits and wines. A Mojito bar on the second floor will feature a Mojito bar inspired by seasonal flavors.

AVAILABILITY FOR PRIVATE PARTIES: The second floor will be available for private events, as well as off- and in-premise catering.

TAKEOUT AND DELIVERY: Both will be available

HOURS: Lunch 11:45 AM – 3PM 7 days a week; Dinner 5 – 12PM Monday through Thursday, 5PM – 1AM Friday through Saturday, and 5 – 10PM on Sunday. Brunch will be introduced shortly after opening.

TOTAL CAPACITY:  70 seats downstairs, and another 50 on the 2nd floor, including seats at the Mojito bar.

CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED: All major Credit Cards

It’s no surprise that, in an effort to unite the myriad flavors of South America and the Caribbean, chef Ricardo Cardona and owner Nino Selimaj chose cassava as their fugue—an ingredient to come back to over and over again, to reveal its multifaceted permutations, and even inspire the very name of their first joint venture: Casabe Bistro Latino. After all, it’s the cornerstone of nary every Latin comfort food—an under-glorified ingredient due its star turn in the increasingly chic world of Nuevo Latino flavors. Named for the traditional yucca-based breads commonly eaten in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, Casabe is Cardona and Selimaj’s ode to refined Latin comforts and traditions—a lively spot where the food and the music exude a festive environment worth coming back to. casaba int main

            Housed in the same space that once held Nino’s 208, Casabe is very proudly the sum of its esteemed parts. A prominent fixture of the Manhattan restaurant scene, owner Nino Selimaj humbly started his career as a dishwasher in a small eatery on East 58th Street—it’s the same street he fatefully finds himself returning to today, after developing a successful portfolio of much-cherished Italian gems like Nino’s Positano, Osso Buco, and Nino’s Tuscany. Assisting him with his first foray into Latin American cuisine is Chef Ricardo Cardona (Sazon, Sofrito, Mama Juana NY), whose twenty-five years of experience developing Manhattan’s Nuevo Latino scene have led him to this, his latest venture. Together, the duo bring their personality into each aspect of the restaurant’s execution, from food to ambiance to décor.casabe int2


The bi-level interior by Nick Grande offers an elegant bistro feel with a Latino flair, the space features a vibrant color palette with green and yellow hues, a tiled floor, and chic banquettes. Overall, the atmosphere can be best described as “modern with a tropical kiss.” There is a wonderful working fireplace, an elevated level by the window with a view of passersby and comfortable booths and tables.

It only takes a few steps into the restaurant to understand you’re in for a fun ride: from the salsa and bossa nova overhead to the warm Latin reception, the tone is set for an evening filled with sabor. Open your appetite with an artfully concocted drink at the Mojito bar upstairs—the Coco New York (Ciroc coco, Godiva white and crème de cacao) or the Yerbabuena (Red Peach Bacardi, Strawberry-kumquat puree, mint and lime) have proven to be early favorites. Then make your way towards the main dining room—where the show really begins.casabe drink1

            The menu revolves around refined Latin comforts, incorporating the diverse flavors of Latin America: the Caribbean, Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Mexico all play major roles. Riffing off dishes that he’s custom created for the likes of Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, the Yankees, and Oscar de la Renta, Cardona bridges authentic flavors with a modern sensibility.

            Start with an upscale twist on tacquitos, or veer towards the Argentinean inspired empanadas, with fusion flavors like pork and sweet plantain or eggplant and goat cheese. Cuban Tamales get a similar haute treatment as the Tamalito con Langosta, served here with a lobster enchilado filling and topped with garlic and lime crema, sweet pepper, sofrito, and truffle oil. Call it umami or dub it delicioso—it’s a must-try no matter the language.

Equally successful are the Arepas, or sweet corn cakes, which bridge distinct Colombian and Jewish flavors (surprising to many, the two do overlap in many communities) when topped with smoked salmon, goat cheese, caramelized onions and fresh caper berries. And for its grand appearance towards the start of the meal, cassava makes a thick, sweet crust for the Camarones en Yuca: tall, towering tails of wrapped-up shrimp set atop a smooth passionfruit chili sauce.

Ceviches carry a singular ability to drive away the winter woes, especially with the tropical fruit flavors they incorporate. Tuna, for instance, gets “cooked” up in a Chipotle Pineapple Mojo, while Salmon is marinated in Aguachile, a reduction made with boiled serranos and jalapenos. Shrimp ceviche is made Ecuadorian style, with spicy fire roasted tomatoes and a shout of orange. Across the board, Cardona says, traditional flavors are “New Yorkified”—a process that both tames down excessive heat and plays up the sophistication quotient.

Cazuelitas are the perfect foray into the kitchen’s most substantial flavors—in Latin tradition, the cast iron skillets are both the cooking and serving vessel. Here, they’re filled with Filet Mignon cooked with red wine and cabrales, a strong Spanish blue cheese, or more casually, crab and spinach queso fundido, to be scooped up with an array of homemade malanga, yuca and plantain chips.casabe steak2

             But of course, it’s the entrees that drive home the joy and comfort of good Latin cooking. Bistec Latino, a beef paillard topped with balsamic and onion escabeche, will strike any Spanish speaker as reminiscent of home—kicked up a notch. With its accompaniments of sweet plantains, avocado, rice and beans, it’s the perfect example of Latin food done right. Salmon gets encrusted in yuca—and served atop a yuca manchego mash. With a dash of Coconut Creole sauce to invigorate familiar flavors, it’s a surprise twist to keep returning to. Perhaps the chef’s favorite dish, Cordero, yields a criss-crossed quartet of Frenched lamb chops, perfectly seared and served atop a colorful bean stew: a balance of indulgence and comfort.casabe steak

             A word to the wise: Save room for dessert. Turning savory ingredients into sweet superstars is a talent of the Casabe kitchen, where plantains become spongy bread pudding with caramelized chunks of freshly braised fruit, all topped with vanilla ice cream and a syrupy plantain sauce. It’s not unlike the more familiar banana variety—a pleasant surprise that makes sense, after all. Traditionalists may prefer the chocolate molten cake, enhanced here with cajeta—a condensed milk syrup—and chipotle. And for its final chorus, close the meal with just a little more cassava—this time in its sweet, ground form, so much more commonly known as tapioca. A Pina Colada inspired treat, the pearls are layered with fresh pineapple and shaved coconut like a bubble-based martini.

Casabe Bistro Latino is located at 208 E 58 Street in Midtown East, and is open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5PM to 11PM, Friday and Saturday from 5PM to 12AM, and Sunday from 5PM to 10PM.  Casabe is also open on weekdays for lunch from 12PM to 3PM. Brunch will launch in December. For reservations, please call (212) 750-7766 or visit

Copyright 2010 By PunchIn International. All Rights Reserved.


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